Winterizing or Storing your bike.

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Winterizing or Storing your bike.

The following is a collection of posts from forum member Sarge (sgtslag) on the topic. It seems like the right time of year to be considering some of these things,but these tips apply to year round storage as well.

Enjoy!  And thank you Sarge. 

sgtslag wrote
There are two schools of thought on gas tanks:  empty, to prevent varnish formation (see below); and, fill it to the brim, to prevent rust formation (see below).  Both have their advantages, and disadvantages.

Empty the tank:
This prevents varnish, but in order to prevent rust formation, you need to either coat the inside of the tank [Creme(?), and other such products], or add a dessicant, to absorb water, to prevent rust.  It's a lot of work, compared the the brim filling technique...

Fill to the Brim:
Fill your tank as full as possible (air space leads to water condensation, which leads to rust...), but first, add a gas stabilizer, such as SeaFoam; SeaFoam will stabilize gasonline for up to 12 months, and possibly longer; SeaFoam will absorb water; SeaFoam will dissove varnish deposits in the entire fuel system; in the Spring, run that tankful of SeaFoam'ed gasoline as empty as possible, before refilling, to gain maximum benefit from it, as refilling will dilute what is left of the SeaFoam in the gasoline.

If you add SeaFoam, run the bike for two minutes to get the treated gasoline circulated throughout the fuel system, before shutting it off for the Winter.  The SeaFoam will work on dissolving any deposits the entire Winter.  Many users report their bikes run better in the Spring, than they did in the Fall, when they were stored!

The battery should be topped off with distilled water, and then smart trickle-charged for the entire Winter.  If you have connectors installed on the battery, and bike, go ahead and leave it in the bike, as long as the smart trickle charger is connected.  NOTE:  only use a smart trickle charger!  These are microprocessor controlled, and they will not boil off your electrolyte; dumb trickle chargers will boil off your electrolyte, ruining your battery, or at the least, shortening their lives dramatically...  It is, however, a good idea to check the electrolyte level at least once, during the Winter, to make sure it is still topped off.

If you really want to, you can fog the cylinders:  coats them with an oil mist, to prevent rust.  Fogging stuff can be had off the Internet, or your local auto supply store.  I don't bother with it, but that is just me, as it requires removal of the spark plugs, and installation of the fogger's in their place; come Spring, you have to replace the fogger's with the plugs...

Oil change?...
The idea behind changing the oil, is that acid is a byproduct of combustion.  Your engine oil (auto, diesel, MC-specific) contains chemicals to neutralize the acids.  There is a test, called Total Base Number (TBN), which will determine the pH level of your oil -- it is an additional $10 above the oil analysis fee of around $22.  If your oil is acidic, it will eat away at the engine's metal, during storage.  Fresh oil has no acid in it.  However, this is, in my opinion, overkill, but to each their own.  The best scenario is to put fresh oil in before storage, then, come Spring, you still have fresh oil to start the season with.  If you run synthetic, you can easily change oil and filter in the Fall, and ignore it until the next Fall season -- one oil change per year, unless you ride year-round...  Oil is good for more than 3,000 miles, especially if you run synthetic.

Store the bike on its center stand, to take pressure off of the tires.  If you are concerned, put a jack under the engine to lift the front wheel off, but I don't bother, and I have not had any issues with flat spots.

Air up the tires to normal riding pressures.  This keeps the tubes, and tires, in proper form.  Letting the air out, can cause the rubber to deform, weakening the tires, and/or tubes.

The Body:
Apply a coat of wax, and protectant to the exterior of the bike, to protect it from rust, and oxidation.  This includes using something like Armor All on the seat.

Finally, cover the bike with an old bed sheet.  This will protect it, and still allow air and moisture to escape.  Covering your bike with a plastic tarp will protect it, but it will also seal moisture within, leading to rust...

Follow this procedure, and come Spring, just turn the gas on, wait for 10-20 minutes for the gas to fill the float bowls, then turn the key, pull the choke, and hit the starter button (assuming you skipped the fogging steps), and ride.  By the way, I live in tropical SE Minnesota.  This is my procedure, since 2006.  No issues yet.  Cheers!

sgtslag wrote
Actually, these steps apply to any storage term longer than four weeks, in any climate.  If dew forms around where a bike is stored, it will form within the gas tank -- freezing temperatures not required.  Gasoline goes bad after a period of time in storage (may take longer than one month, I really don't know how long it is good for).  Flooded batteries will slowly evaporate off their electrolyte, as well as self-discharge, no matter the temperature.  Tires will develop flat spots over time of sitting, regardless of temperature.

What usually happens, is the long storage occurs without warning:  health issues crop up suddenly; job situation changes, and the (luxury) of bike riding dies; or something else happens.  Then the bike is quickly forgotten about, and the carbs, gas tank, tires, and the battery, all go to hell from neglect.  This is how barn-find's happen.  Life sucks, sometimes, but with proper storage practice, a bike can be put back onto the road just by uncovering it, and riding it.

Even if a bike is kept in a warm climate, storage measures can save a lot of money, and effort, if applied properly.  My father suffered a stroke, and his bike was forgotten in the garage, for three years, no preventative measures taken at all.  The gas, and carbs, were green, smelled unusually foul, and took a lot of work to clean up for the bike to be sold (as a running, ride-able, bike).  Wish I had moth-balled it for him, but it was forgotten with everything else we were dealing with.  Cheers!

sgtslag wrote
One thing about starting them in the Winter...  You need to run them until the oil gets to 212 F, or above.  Combustion produces some water, as a byproduct.  If you don't run the engine up to operating temperatures, the water will collect in the oil, and the engine.  The other downside to this practice, is that it will drain gas out of the tank, creating air space, which may lead to condensation, and rust.  Just some points to consider.

If you leave it, all Winter, without starting, it won't be harmed if you take the precautions listed.  Fogging the cylinders is probably preferred, but I have not had any issues without it.  Cheers!
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Re: Winterizing or Storing your bike.


I drain the tank, start the bike and run it till it dies.

Was talking to a Harley guy at the pump just yesterday,
told me he just pulls his into his spare bedroom and parks it.

The C model I have, it's drained and the battery is pulled and sitting in my laundry room.

The F model, The Black One, shoot, hopefully there's still at least a month of riding yet.

Guy at the hardware store told me today, after seeing my bike outside his place,
"Grady, you know there's a fine line between genius, and insanity........"
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In reply to this post by shinyribs
Why would you store a bike?
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Re: Winterizing or Storing your bike.


Ha, got me on that one.

He struck me as being a guy that went the path of least resistance.
I mentioned pulling the battery and he kinda cringed.

I think he was just a lazy f***, rolling it into the house was just too easy
to worry about, well, you know, pulling a wrench.
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Re: Winterizing or Storing your bike.

In reply to this post by shinyribs
Winterizing? Oh yeah….not Florida.
Mark Davis
Palm Beach Gardens, FL
amateur photographer, hot rodder, motorcyclist, adventurer
"Four wheels move the body. Two wheels move the soul."